2. CNN Worries If Those at Reagan Viewing "Look Like America?"
3. Brokaw Relays How Reagan Ignored AIDS & "the Disenfranchised"
4. Page One
WPost Story Regurgitates Old Liberal Attacks on Reagan
Dan Rather delivered a smart-ass take on the Bush administration's success in getting a unanimous vote of the United Nations Security Council on a resolution setting guidelines for the turnover of power in Iraq and the holding of elections. Rather opened Tuesday's CBS Evening News: "More than 14 months into the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq, President Bush now has what he once said he didn't need: Full support from the United Nations Security Council."
Rather briefly elaborated in a set up piece from John Roberts: "Late today the Security Council voted 15 to zero for a resolution, drafted by the U.S. and Britain, setting a hopeful timetable for Iraqi elections and withdrawal of coalition forces."
Reagan mourners are not diverse enough for CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer who wanted to know if those waiting hours to see Ronald Reagan lying in repose at the Reagan Library "look like America," meaning: "Are they ethnically diverse, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, or is it largely white?"
Just a couple of minutes past noon EDT on Tuesday, June 8, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, Blitzer asked CNN reporter Thelma Gutierrez, who was at the Reagan Library: "Can you tell, Thelma, and clearly this is unscientific, but, if the crowds really look like America? Are they ethnically diverse, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, or is it largely white?"
Gutierrez avoided the racially-polarizing nature of Blitzer's question as she responded: "That's an interesting question. As we went into the main lobby area, we noticed that, really, there was a cross-section, especially this morning. I noticed that there were many Asians. There were old people, young people, veterans. Many people, very, very choked up, very moved by what they'd just experienced."
Hours after the Philadelphia Inquirer hit newsstands on Tuesday with Tom Brokaw's argument that "the Reagan legacy has some scandals," including "his failure to recognize early on the AIDS epidemic," the NBC Nightly News featured an interview with Michael Deaver, to whom Brokaw proposed that "retrospectives" of the Reagan presidency assert "that he was not nearly as sensitive to the disenfranchised in America, the poor people, especially African-Americans."
Philadelphia Inquirer television columnist Gail Shister quoted Brokaw as answering, when asked about the balance between somber tributes and analyzing his record: "Reagan 'was a beloved American leader, but at the same time our journalistic obligation is to put his whole life and his political career in context,' Brokaw says. 'It's a very delicate balancing act. 'In a time of national mourning, let the first day or so pass, then go back and respectfully examine the person's record. The Reagan legacy has some scandals -- Iran-contra, his failure to recognize early on the AIDS epidemic. He made some controversial appointments."
Brokaw ended Tuesday's NBC Nightly News with excerpts from an "exclusive" interview with former top Reagan aide Michael Deaver, whom Brokaw dubbed "the wizard of finding just the right setting for Reagan."
As the two sat across a conference table from one another, Deaver recounted how when the Bitburg cemetery controversy erupted, Reagan said we need reconciliation after 40 years. Following the KAL-007 shootdown, Deaver recalled how Reagan told his aides the U.S. was not going to do anything since the world would make a judgment about the Soviets.
Brokaw then proposed: "In the retrospectives, Mike as you know, there are the analyses of his policies and his own attitudes toward other parts of society -- that he was not nearly as sensitive to the disenfranchised in America, the poor people, especially African-Americans. Did he ever talk to you about that?"
In Shister's story, CBS's Dan Rather complained about too much coverage of Reagan. An excerpt from her June 8 article, "Network anchors see excess in Reagan funeral coverage":
Television will go overboard on covering Ronald Reagan's funeral events, say Dan Rather of CBS and Tom Brokaw of NBC. ABC's Peter Jennings isn't so sure.
"They will be over-covered," Rather says. "Even though everybody is respectful and wants to pay homage to the president, life does go on. There is other news, like the reality of Iraq. It got very short shrift this weekend."...
Yesterday, CBS, ABC and NBC, along with the 24-hour cable news networks, reported live as the former president's body was moved from a Santa Monica, Calif., funeral home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Rather, 72, who covered the funerals of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973 and John F. Kennedy in '63, points to "herd journalism" as the driving force in the Reagan coverage.
"Once the herd starts moving in one direction, it's very hard to turn it, even slightly. Nationally, the herd has grown tremendously."
Neither CBS nor ABC has an all-news cable cousin. Brokaw has the luxury of two -- MSNBC and CNBC. He acknowledges that cable's blanket coverage of events can't help but affect the Big Three.
"I think just about everything is over-covered these days," says Brokaw, 64. "The spectrum is so crowded. With all the cable networks, it begins to have a 'video wall' feeling to it."...
ABC's Jennings has mixed feelings about the quantity of airtime devoted to Reagan.
"I'm more inclined to spare coverage -- come on [the air], do something meaningful, then get away." He admits he was nervous about going live yesterday with the Reagan motorcade.
"The last time I had to do it was with O.J. Simpson [the 1994 car chase] and I had nothing to say after a certain period of time," says Jennings, 64.
Yesterday, it turned out to be the right call, he says, because there were several poignant moments....
The tone of the networks' Reagan coverage thus far has raised some eyebrows among media critics, who labeled it too soft on his sometimes controversial presidency.
Rather says such analysis should be done only after Reagan is interred. (He prefers to call Reagan's funeral "his farewell journey.")
"When a twice-elected, two-full-term president dies, it's not the time for a seminar on his strengths and weaknesses, in my opinion.
"To paraphase Marc Antony, I think, by and large, that the good that men do should live after them, and the evil should be interred with their bones."
Brokaw and Jennings don't share Rather's view. Although they both intend to be appropriately respectful while covering the somber events, their networks will also do analytical pieces this week....
END of Excerpt
For Shister's article in full: www.philly.com
"I think it's appropriate that we take this week to celebrate the life of Ronald Reagan," former Washington Post reporter and Reagan biographer Lou Cannon argued in a Washington Post chat session Tuesday in defending the media for not running critical stories this week about Reagan's record. But the Post didn't follow his advice. Wednesday's front page featured a story which complained that "the lavish praise obscures that much of Reagan's record through eight years in office was highly controversial and intensified social and political divisions."
For the online session with Cannon: www.washingtonpost.com
Post reporters Eric Pianin and Thomas Edsall did little more than regurgitate left-wing spin points from the 1980s intended to discredit Reagan, particularly on race relations, and they adopted the ridiculous notion that federal spending on social programs was somehow cut during the Reagan years.
The Post duo cited "attacks on the federal school lunch program and aid to the poor" and highlighted how "no group may have chafed more at Reagan's policies and views than African Americans, who assailed the president for opposing racial quotas and for seeking to obtain a tax credit for Bob Jones University, a segregated southern school."
Pianin and Edsall contended that Reagan "offended blacks when he kicked off his 1980 general election campaign by promoting 'states rights' -- once southern code for segregation -- in Philadelphia, Miss., scene of the murder of three civil rights workers 16 years before." The Post reporters went on to claim that "Reagan ordered some of his toughest budget cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children and other 'means tested' programs that were critical to large numbers of lower-income black families."
Of course, no Reagan-bashing story is complete without the ketchup and a vegetable tale: "Until a public protest forced Reagan to back away, his Agriculture Department sought to cut the school lunch program and redefine ketchup and relish as vegetables."
Ignoring how income tax revenue grew faster than inflation throughout the 1980s, they also claimed that "the combination of a huge 'supply-side' tax cut, a historic military buildup and a painful two-year recession produced huge budget deficits and a near tripling of the national debt that haunted the country and policymakers for years and drained resources from social programs."
Oh, and "the administration showed indifference to an emerging AIDS crisis in the early 1980s."
Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham covered some of the same ground in his retrospective of Reagan's life in the June 14 edition of the magazine:
Meacham's piece, however, largely stuck to Reagan's life story and more upbeat assessments as cited the criticisms in a lead into a look at why Reagan is nonetheless so popular. Newsweek published the article under the heading of "American Dreamer." The subhead description of Meacham's piece: "A captivating and elusive man, Ronald Reagan rose from lifeguarding in Illinois to Hollywood -- and became one of our greatest Presidents. An intimate look at how he played the role of a lifetime."
For Meacham's article in full: www.msnbc.msn.com
An excerpt from the June 9 Washington Post front page article, "Schisms from Administration Lingered for Years," by Eric Pianin and Thomas B. Edsall:
As the nation mourns its 40th president, much is being made of Ronald Reagan's role in reordering U.S.-Soviet relations and dramatically redefining the terms of the political debate over tax policy, defense, domestic priorities and social justice. The outpouring of flattering eulogies and tributes since the conservative icon died Saturday is what presidential historian Robert Dallek described yesterday as "hagiography" of a highly popular political leader.
But the lavish praise obscures that much of Reagan's record through eight years in office was highly controversial and intensified social and political divisions. Even now, nearly 16 years after he left office, some major interest groups and key voting blocs most adversely affected by Reagan policies remain bitter about his legacy.
The controversies and scandals included attacks on the federal school lunch program and aid to the poor, anti-union tactics, the illegal sale of arms to Iran and Reagan's 1985 participation in a ceremony at a German cemetery where Nazi soldiers are buried.
No group may have chafed more at Reagan's policies and views than African Americans, who assailed the president for opposing racial quotas and for seeking to obtain a tax credit for Bob Jones University, a segregated southern school.
"For many Americans, this was a time best forgotten," said Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP and a longtime civil rights activist. "He was a polarizing figure in black America. He was hostile to the generally accepted remedies for discrimination. His appointments were of people as equally hostile. I can't think of any Reagan policy that African Americans would embrace."
The former actor and California governor offended blacks when he kicked off his 1980 general election campaign by promoting "states rights" -- once southern code for segregation -- in Philadelphia, Miss., scene of the murder of three civil rights workers 16 years before. Early in his first term, Reagan ordered some of his toughest budget cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children and other "means tested" programs that were critical to large numbers of lower-income black families. Until a public protest forced Reagan to back away, his Agriculture Department sought to cut the school lunch program and redefine ketchup and relish as vegetables.
Reagan had vowed to protect the "social safety net" of programs for the poor, the disabled and the elderly when he unveiled his economic recovery plan on Feb. 18, 1981. But two years later, White House budget director David A. Stockman said in an interview that the safety-net assurances were "just a spur-of-the-moment thing that the press office wanted to put out."...
There were other controversies:
Reagan fired 13,000 air traffic controllers in 1981 after they staged a work stoppage, and he appointed members of the National Labor Relations Board who were hostile to union organizing. His interior secretary, James G. Watt, and senior Environmental Protection Agency officials infuriated environmentalists by assaulting safeguards and aggressively attempting to open public lands in the West to private developers. Reagan, during his 1980 campaign, blamed trees for emitting 93 percent of the nation's nitrogen oxide pollution -- giving rise to jokes about "killer trees."
The combination of a huge "supply-side" tax cut, a historic military buildup and a painful two-year recession produced huge budget deficits and a near tripling of the national debt that haunted the country and policymakers for years and drained resources from social programs. And the administration showed indifference to an emerging AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. By the time Reagan delivered his first speech on the epidemic in May 1988 -- about eight months before he left office -- the disease had been diagnosed in more than 36,000 Americans, and 20,849 had died.
"Reaganomics" failed to reduce the deficit, but the combined policies of the administration and the Federal Reserve Board helped usher in the longest peacetime economic expansion since the end of World War II -- a nearly eight-year boom that made many people rich and left a pleasant "morning in America" memory in the minds of millions of voters....
Reagan pursued one other foreign policy initiative that proved highly damaging to U.S. interests in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era. Fearing that Iranian revolutionaries who had overthrown the shah and taken U.S. diplomats hostage might overrun the Middle East and its oil fields, the Reagan administration for five years provided military intelligence, economic aid and covert supplies of munitions to Iraq's armies in support of Saddam Hussein's war with Iran. The administration ignored Iraq's use of chemical weapons and treated Hussein's government as the lesser of two evils.
The Reagan years were marred by scandals involving Watt and White House deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver. But the most damaging was known simply as "Iran-contra."...
Watt was forced to resign from his Cabinet post after a series of controversies, including the uproar that followed his portrayal of five members of an advisory panel as "every kind of mix you can have. I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent."...
END of Excerpt
For the Washington Post's June 9 take on Reagan in full: www.washingtonpost.com
# Tom Brokaw is scheduled to appear tonight, Wednesday, on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
-- Brent Baker